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Consumer

Why I Still Drive My Old Honda Civic

by Luke Landes
Honda Civic

After noticing, month after month, that I include the value of my 2004 Honda Civic in my monthly net worth updates, a reader wrote in to Consumerism Commentary to ask why I haven’t given into my desires and purchased something newer or more exciting. I’ve had a bit of a storied past with cars, but ... Continue reading this article…

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Verizon Wireless Roaming Charges Class Action Lawsuit

by Luke Landes

I received a notice in the mail stating that I could receive benefits from Verizon Wireless as a result of a class action settlement. The lawsuit alleges that the mobile phone company failed to provide free roaming as part of Verizon’s “America’s Choice II” calling plan. The plan documentation stipulated that there would be no ... Continue reading this article…

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The Best Back-to-School Shopping Tips

by Luke Landes
Back to School

The best way to get the most for your money when shopping for school supplies is to start early. While there are some good deals and good sales during the summer before the school year starts, you can only take advantage of them if you’re prepared. Some deals aren’t ask great as they’re advertised to ... Continue reading this article…

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Sales Tax Holidays, 2011

by Luke Landes

For several years, many states offer sales tax holidays, several dates set aside during which merchants will not charge customers sales tax. Each year, the dates and the participating states change. I’ve updated this list for 2011 as we’re approach the back-to-school shopping season. Consumers should take advantage of the few days their state offers ... Continue reading this article…

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Most Americans Can’t Pay for Car Repairs, 4 Tips to Help

by Luke Landes
Hail damage to a car

According to a recent survey by AAA, 62 percent of American drivers would not be able to pay $2,000 for car repairs without going into debt with a credit card or asking for money from friends or family. While the savings rate is positive, it’s not common for consumers to put aside a portion of ... Continue reading this article…

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The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau

by Luke Landes

Last November, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau began to take shape after being a part of a bill in Congress signed into law in July 2010. Now, a year later, the bureau is ready to launch. Elizabeth Warren was appointed by President Obama to assemble the bureau, and in this role, Congress pressed her on ... Continue reading this article…

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Extreme Couponing Fuzzy Math

by Luke Landes
Walmart Grocery Shopping

I’m a big fan of saving money on necessary spending. Grocery shopping is expensive, and food and household staples present an excellent opportunity to find coupons and save money with every visit. The savings can be substantial if you’re willing to put in the time to find the right coupons, dumpster-dive to collect other people’s ... Continue reading this article…

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Netflix Increases Subscription Price for Some Customers

by Luke Landes

My Facebook feed exploded the other day with news that Netflix was changing its pricing scheme. For some customers, those who subscribe to unlimited streaming and DVD plans, the new price would be a 50 percent increase. I subscribe to Netflix. A few months ago I re-instated my account to take advantage of the streaming-only option ... Continue reading this article…

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What is Value? It’s Often a Lie.

by Luke Landes

“Buy now! A $2,000 value, only $79.95! This week only!” What is value, really? When a product is on sale, why do we say that product is worth more than we pay? It’s psychological. We’re getting a deal. We presume the company is taking a loss in order to bring us a special offer, figuring ... Continue reading this article…

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The True Cost of Rent to Own

by Luke Landes
Refrigerator

The debate pitting the concept of buying versus the concept of renting will never end. With a primary home, there may be a plethora of financial calculators and endless real estate analysts to help you make the decision. There are financial considerations as well as non-financial considerations, and pundits on either side who swear their ... Continue reading this article…

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How a College Meal Plan Wastes Money

by Luke Landes

Meal plans at college are convenient. A student’s food costs are wrapped into each semester’s tuition bill, allowing them to focus on academics and college activities rather than finding the money for each meal. Many colleges offer similar meal plan choices, and the two most popular options are plans that offer either three meals a ... Continue reading this article…

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Avoid Late-Night Infomercial Scams

by Luke Landes

I’m usually awake late at night, and I’ve occasionally helped myself shut out distracting noise late at night by keeping the television audio on at a low volume. Invariably, the late night programming is centered around show-length commercials for a variety of products. Kitchen devices seem to be some of the most popular products sold ... Continue reading this article…

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Don’t Run on Empty, and New EPA Stickers for New Cars

by Luke Landes
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Before my girlfriend purchased a new car, she was always careful to refuel her old car before the gas gauge dipped below a quarter of a tank. I’ve been living on the edge, letting my gauge drop to one-eighth of a tank or less before refueling. Her concern was that the gauge didn’t seem very ... Continue reading this article…

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Car Dealers Pass Loan Acquisition Fees to Buyers Without Disclosure

by Luke Landes
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If you have less-than-stellar credit, you’re at a significant disadvantage when you go to a dealer to purchase a car and seek financing through the dealer. Banks or intermediary loan brokers charge dealers a fee to extend credit to a risky customer. Rather than denying someone credit, the company that finances the loan charges risky ... Continue reading this article…

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Mother’s Day Fiasco With FTD: A Review

by Luke Landes
Mother's Day Flowers

In my attempt to be a good son to my mother who lives about as far away from me as possible in the contiguous United States, I decided to send a bouquet of flowers for Mother’s Day. Sending flowers may be cliché, but I know she appreciates it, so I’m happy to send them. I’ve ... Continue reading this article…

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Use Technology to Save Gas Money

by Luke Landes

The last time average gasoline prices reached $4.00 a gallon, people were agitated. I wasn’t immune either; I’ve commented on the rising prices as well. Although I’ve been thankful that gas prices in this country are lower than many other places in the world, and has prices in New Jersey are generally lower than average, ... Continue reading this article…

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The Group Couponing Craze: Good for Merchants, Bad for Consumers

by Luke Landes

Whether it’s extreme couponing or group-couponing, the idea of saving money has the country frantically searching for deals and spreading the word through social networking. I’ve had to hide a number of friends whose total social discourse has been reduced to posts about their favorite deals — and WRITING IN ALL CAPITAL LETTERS when they’re ... Continue reading this article…

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Gold and Silver Officially Currency in Utah

by Luke Landes

There’s good news for currency purists in Utah. If a shopper is so inclined, she could use gold and silver coins to make purchases. Technically, that has always been the case, but now there is a law on the books that makes it clear. There is a slight problem with this idea, however. The legal ... Continue reading this article…

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Should We Eliminate the U.S. Postal Service?

by Luke Landes
Mailboxes

I don’t bother checking my mailbox every day. Most of the paper mail I receive is junk, and I’m sure the same is true for most households. Unlike Gmail, I can’t create an automated filter to organize my paper mail, and there is no built-in junk-mail screen. As a result, 95 percent of what I receive ... Continue reading this article…

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AT&T Acquiring T-Mobile USA: Today’s Mobile Phone Options

by Luke Landes
Telephone

This weekend, AT&T announced its plans to buy T-Mobile USA for $39 billion, pending regulatory approval. The new company would be the leading mobile telephone (and data) service provider in terms of customers. With the new AT&T soaking up 39 percent of the mobile market, and with Verizon Wireless at a close second at 31 percent, this ... Continue reading this article…

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